‘No, I’m not a prophet! No, I’m not the son of a prophet! It’s true. I’m just a fruit-picker and flock-tender. But I’ll tell you something. Even though a lowly layman, I’m far more qualified to speak for God than are you, a professional priest!” This little confrontation took place around 760 B.C. in the Northern Kingdom city of Bethel. The speaker was Amos, and his angry listener, Amaziah, was the faithless priest of Bethel . Amaziah had started the whole episode by his efforts to muzzle Amos. It was like attempting to silence an electrical storm! No other writing prophet so thundered away at sin, righteousness, and Judgment as did Amos. Before he finished, Jews, Gentiles, laymen, and leaders were boldly denounced. Justice had been spurned. Judgment would fall. Four terrible visions spoke of this. But after the fury of the storm abated, the glory of the Lord would appear. Israel would be redeemed, regathered, and restored to the land!
Amos prophesies during a period of national optimism in Israel . Business is booming and boundaries are bulging. But below the surface, greed and injustice are festering. Hypocritical religious motions have replaced true worship, creating a false sense of security and a growing callousness to God’s disciplining hand. Famine, drought, plagues, death, and destruction-nothing can force the people to their knees. Amos, the farmer-turned-prophet, lashes out at sin unflinchingly, trying to visualize the nearness of God’s Judgment and mobilize the nation to repentance. The nation, like a basket of rotting fruit, stands ripe for Judgment because of its hypocrisy and spiritual indifference. The name Amos is derived from the Hebrew root amas, “to lift a burden, to carry.” Thus, his name means “Burden” or “Burden-Bearer.” Amos lives up to the meaning of his name by bearing up under his divinely given burden of declaring Judgment to rebellious Israel . The Greek and Latin titles are both transliterated in English as Amos. Amos ministered after the time of Obadiah, Joel, and Jonah and just before Hosea, Micah, and Isaiah. At this time Uzziah reigned over a prosperous and militarily successful Judah . He fortified Jerusalem and subdued the Philistines, the Ammonites, and the Edomites. In the north, Israelwas ruled by the capable King Jeroboam II. Economic and military circumstances were almost ideal, but prosperity only increased the materialism, immorality, and injustice of the people (2:6-8; 3:10; 4: I; 5:10-12; 8:4-6). During these years, Assyria, Babylon , Aram, and Egypt were relatively weak. Thus, the people of Israel found it hard to imagine the coming disaster predicted by Amos. However, it was only three decades until the downfall of Israel .
The church’s neglect of Amos might be understandable if we lived in a world of little injustice, little poverty, and little misuse of wealth-or even if we lived in a world in which the conditions Amos speaks of were recognized but were gradually being righted. But this is not the case. In 1977 the National Academy of Science published a report saying that 750 million people in the poorest nations live in extreme poverty with incomes of less than seventy-five dollars per year. The United Nations’ Development Forumreported in 1974 that “at least 460 million are actually starving.” Roughly a billion persons, chiefly in third- and fourth world countries, are malnourished. Yet in spite of efforts to deal with such great problems in some quarters, the gap between the rich and poor countries is widening as the years go by. In 1965 the per capita Gross National Product of developed countries was twelve times as large as that of developing countries taken as a group. But that figure has already increased, and it is predicted by Professor Bhagwati of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that the rich will have 15x the GNP by AD 2000.
I. The Character of God Revealed:
A. OMNIPOTENCE Amos 4:13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The LORD, The God of hosts, is his name. (KJV); Amos 9:5 And the Lord GOD of hosts is he that toucheth the land, and it shall melt, and all that dwell therein shall mourn: and it shall rise up wholly like a flood; and shall be drowned, as by the flood ofEgypt . (KJV); Amos 3:6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it? (KJV).Also 4:6-13; 5:8-9; 7:4; 8:9; 9:5-6.
B. OMNISCIENCE Amos 8:7 The LORD hath sworn by the excellency of Jacob, Surely I will never forget any of their works. (KJV).
C. OMNIPRESENCE Amos 9:1-4 I saw the Lord standing upon the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake: and cut them in the head, all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that fleeth of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered. 2 Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down: 3 And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them: 4 And though they go into captivity before their enemies, thence will I command the sword, and it shall slay them: and I will set mine eyes upon them for evil, and not for good. (KJV)
D. HOLINESS Amos 2:7 That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father will go in unto the same maid, to profane my holy name: (KJV);Amos 4:2 The Lord GOD hath sworn by his holiness, that, lo, the days shall come upon you, that he will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fishhooks. (KJV)
E. JEALOUSY Amos 4:5 And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD. (KJV)
F. JUSTICE Amos 1:3 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron: (KJV) Amos 1:3-13 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron: 4 But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Benhadad. 5 I will break also the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the plain of Aven, and him that holdeth the sceptre from the house of Eden : and the people ofSyria shall go into captivity unto Kir, saith the LORD. 6 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they carried away captive the whole captivity, to deliver them up to Edom: 7 But I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, which shall devour the palaces thereof: 8 And I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and him that holdeth the sceptre from Ashkelon, and I will turn mine hand against Ekron: and the remnant of the Philistines shall perish, saith the Lord GOD. 9 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Tyrus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom , and remembered not the brotherly covenant: 10 But I will send a fire on the wall of Tyrus, which shall devour the palaces thereof. 11 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he did pursue his brother with the sword, and did cast off all pity, and his anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath for ever: 12 But I will send a fire upon Teman, which shall devour the palaces of Bozrah. 13 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of the children of Ammon, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead , that they might enlarge their border: (KJV)
G. MERCY Amos 4:1 Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria , which oppress the poor, which crush the needy, which say to their masters, Bring, and let us drink. (KJV). Also 5:11-12; 7:3,6; 9:8,11.
H. TRUTH Amos 1:9 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Tyrus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom, and remembered not the brotherly covenant: (KJV); Amos 5:10 They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly. (KJV).
I. LONG SUFFERING Amos 5:6 Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel . (KJV); Amos 8:2 And he said, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A basket of summer fruit. Then said the LORD unto me, The end is come upon my people of Israel ; I will not again pass by them any more. (KJV).
II. The Titles Of God Presented:
A. CREATOR Amos 4:13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The LORD, The God of hosts, is his name. (KJV);Amos 5:8 Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name: (KJV).
B. REVEALER Amos 2:11 And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazarites. Is it not even thus, O ye children of Israel ? saith the LORD. (KJV); Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. (KJV); Amos 4:13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The LORD, The God of hosts, is his name. (KJV).
C. SUSTAINER Amos 5:8 Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name: (KJV)
D. RESTORER Amos 9:11-15 In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: 12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this. 13 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. 14 And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel , and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. 15 And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God. (KJV)
E. ALMIGHTY Amos 5:16 Therefore the LORD, the God of hosts, the Lord, saith thus; Wailing shall be in all streets; and they shall say in all the highways, Alas! alas! and they shall call the husbandman to mourning, and such as are skilful of lamentation to wailing. (KJV)
 Boice, Minor Prophets, p. 133.